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Co-founder of Hillsong charged with failing to report abuse allegations

06 August 2021

Alamy

Worshippers at a Hillsong Conference at the O2 Arena, London, in July 2020

Worshippers at a Hillsong Conference at the O2 Arena, London, in July 2020

BRIAN HOUSTON, the co-founder of the Sydney-based Pentecostal church Hillsong, has been charged with failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse dating to the 1970s. The charge relates to allegations that his father, Frank Houston, a Pentecostal preacher who died in 2004, abused nine boys both in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Houston, 67, who is currently in the United States, has issued a statement saying that he will defend the charges, which he “vehemently denies”. He is scheduled to appear in court in Sydney in October.

New Zealand-born Frank Houston founded the Sydney Christian Life Centre after moving to Australia in 1977. Originally non-denominational, it became an Assemblies of God church. It later merged with his son Brian’s Hills Christian Life Centre to become Hillsong Church, which now has global outreach.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Brian Houston failed to report the abuse to the police after his father disclosed it in 1999, leading to his resignation from the church with a pension.

At the time, Brian Houston was national president of the Assemblies of God, now called the Australian Christian Churches. Hillsong is no longer affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches.

Brian Houston is a close friend of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who has described him as a key spiritual mentor. Mr Morrison is a Pentecostal believer, and has spoken at a Hillsong conference.

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